UPDATE: BP stops oil spill! – A failed cement plug probably caused the blowout which led to the huge oil spill in the Gulf. And guess whose company installed the cement plug? It was a company led by a member of the extremely pro-business Bush administration, namely Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton.

In New Scientist, Phil McKenna explains that, “As part of the drilling process, a cement plug is placed at the bottom of the well in order to temporarily shut it off prior to pumpingthe oil out. While the cement is drying, mud is loaded into the top of the well to prevent a gas surge. Before removing the mud, pressure tests are carried out to ensure the plug is holding.” The pressure test results carried out on April 20 were inconclusive, but the drilling went ahead anyway. McKenna quotes Texas oil expert Satish Nagarajaiah as saying, “It’slike taking out your most critical defense when you are being attacked.”

In the May 26th edition of the New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd complains that, “Consorting with the industry intensified once two oilmen took over the White House. Dick Cheney, Duke of Halliburton–responsible for the cementing of the calamitous well, now under investigation–had his aides conspire with BP America and other oil companies to draw up an energy policy.”

She reveals that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is in charge of regulating the oil industry is MADE UP of oil industry executives, and quotes Larry Williamson, MMS district manager for Louisiana, as saying, “Obviously, we’re all oil industry. We’re allfrom the same part of the country. Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns. Some of these people, they’ve been friends with all their life.” MMS decided several years ago that a remote-controlled shut-off switch was an unnecessary expense for drilling companies.

Dowd’s final word: “As we watch a self-inflicted contamination that has no end in sight, consider this chilling arithmetic: One oil industry reporter reckoned that the five thousand barrels a day (a conservative estimate) spewing 5,000 feet down in the gulf counts for only two minutes of oil consumption in the state of Texas.”

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